Atlanta is in a rebuild, which means a lot of attention will be focused on the Minor League clubs. Atlanta had a relatively quiet, yet very good offseason. They grabbed a handful of fillers for the AAA club, and some of these guys could really turn it around. Combined with some top prospects, Gwinnett is really interesting this year. AAA doesn’t have many prospects, but there are a few big names. Here is my list of players to watch for 2016:
Turning Their Careers Around:
P Ethan Martin– Martin is originally from Georgia, and after a good debut with the Phillies, he fell off. The 26-year old Athens native posted a 2-5 record with a 5.93 ERA. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt due to being on a poorly managed and all around awful Philadelphia club. He was a former first round pick by the Dodgers but never made it to the Major League club. The Braves are continuing their interesting strategy of picking up “failed” 1st round picks and attempting to turn them around. Probably my favorite Minor League signing of the offseason.
P Jhoulys Chacin– Chacin is another guy I’m willing to give the benefit of the doubt to. He’s got a career 40-49 record with a 3.76 ERA. These aren’t too awful of numbers, especially when you consider he spent his whole career in Colorado with the exception of one year in Arizona. Coors Field is a notorious hitter’s park, so a change of scenery could be huge for him.
P Alexi Ogando- Ogando is my second favorite signing of the offseason. He got roughed up for 2 years, but could turn out being a nice piece in the bullpen. Ogando had plenty of years posting a sub 3.50 bullpen ERA, and could make an appearance in Atlanta soon.
P Kyle Kendrick- Kendrick has not had a very good career, but he’s been a solid innings eater in Philly. He’s a low risk, low reward signing that was a good move by the Braves. If they had signed Aaron Harang to 2 more years like I wanted to last year, we wouldn’t have this problem.
IF Reid Brignac- Brignac has had an interesting career, .219 average and 12 HRs. He’s never gotten a chance anywhere he’s been, but if an injury arises, he could be a good filler for the Major League Club. Don’t expect to see Brignac in an Atlanta uniform unless he has a career year or there’s an injury.
IF Nate Freiman- Our other Freiman, the 6’8 1B “prospect” never panned out in Oakland, and Atlanta has decided to give him another chance. In the majors, the big lefty hit .256 with 9 HRs in a small sample of games. He lead the Pacific Coast League (AAA) in RBIs in 2015 for a short stint. Make no mistake, Freiman is VERY powerful.
Prospects To Watch
Sean Newcomb– Nuke was the big chip in the Andrelton Simmons trade, and is Atlanta’s #2 Prospect (#4 LHP Prospect for 2016) . He’s probably going to reach the Major League Club first, and will no doubt be an impact player sooner rather than later.
Dian Toscano– Toscano was a Cuban signee who is FINALLY getting to play. Toscano is another dog in the fight that is our already crowded outfield. If Toscano has a big spring, it may give the team more incentive to part ways with Nick Markakis.
Aaron Blair– Blair was part of the Dansby Swanson/Shelby Miller trade. Blair was the #61 overall prospect in the MLB in 2015, and is ranked the 4th best prospect for Atlanta. The big righty has a lot to prove, but looks to be a mid-rotation guy in the bigs.